OPINION – Presidency: Neither the APC, nor the PDP

It is time for Nigerians to shift for the better, try new set of leaders, not for the sake of trial but because of the need to move the country ahead.

By Emeka Duru

Growing up, we were treated to a ghoulish form of wrestling referred to as cage fight in which the competitors were herded into a chained ring and nudged to hit one another until one subdued the other to emerge the winner. The contest was often fatal and gory. One outstanding feature was absence of a regulator or referee. Every wrestler was free to adopt any strategy no matter how unconventional, to undo his opponent. It was usually catastrophic. Not even the eventual winner got out of the ring intact. Everyone lost in one way or another.

This is almost the tortuous route the All Progressives Congress (APC), has taken Nigeria through in the last eight years as the ruling party. Like ardent con artists, chieftains of the party in government and outside, have driven the country down the slope in a manner of a car without brake to the point of crashing it beyond repairs.

Without any precise agenda or compass for governance, the government and the party have treated Nigerians to a free style regimen. And the nation is worse for it. That is why two weeks to the presidential election, Nigerians are going through excruciating fuel and currency crisis that has virtually shut down all economic activities in the country. Nobody really wants to assume responsibility; nobody really wants to assert authority.

To worsen matters, the ruling party is at war with itself, in many respects. The confusion in its fold is multi-dimensional, cutting across all its fabrics and creating doubts on its future. Virtually all the state chapters are in crisis. In clear terms, APC is a threat to Nigeria’s democracy. But make no mistake about it. It is not as if APC had particularly come across as one that would lead Nigerians to the proverbial Promised Land. In fact, even as its founders pranced about in excitement in 2014 over the new organisation, it was obvious from the fleeting antecedents of some of them that the party was a mere congregation of power mongers seeking a stronger platform to actualise their dream.

Nigerians fell for the antics of the party due largely to the abysmal performance of the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the exaggerated profile of its presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari. But nearly eight years down the line, the chickens, as they say, have come to roost. Coming to power, the party promised good life to Nigerians. But on assumption to office, it became a monster. In place of bread, it has been feeding the citizens with pebbles and stones. In place of fish, it has given them serpents. Rather than alleviating their pains, APC has subjected Nigerians to unending suffering.

The fuel/Naira scarcity is merely one in the series of governance failure by the APC. Nigeria under the party is on the verge of state failure, with all indices of development heading the axiomatic south. Under the superintendence of the party, 133 million Nigerians, representing 63 percent of the country’s estimated 200 million population, have been classified as multidimensionally poor, in a recent report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). Since 2018, the country has been tagged the poverty capital of the world.

In December 2022 a report by a research outfit, Jobberman Nigeria, disclosed that over 50 per cent of Nigerian youths were unemployed and unemployable, stressing the need for urgent intervention to halt the trend. Within the same period, publications on the website of the Debt Management Office, hinted that the total public debt stock had risen from N42.84tn recorded in the second quarter to N44.06tn in Q3, 2022, creating more repayment burdens.

In many parts of the country, insecurity has been on the rise to the extent that farmers can no longer access their farms. Terrorists, insurgents, kidnappers and other shades of criminals have been on the loose making life difficult for the people. Prices of basic food items have been steadily on the rise as the national currency, the naira continues to lose value.

You would expect a party or government that has inflicted such unprecedented hardship on a people, to admits its errors and make atonement. On the contrary, the managers of the party are carrying on with nauseating arrogance. On his part, President Buhari expects Nigerians to be grateful to him for lording it over them.

So, while Bola Tinubu, the APC presidential candidate, struggles to distance himself from the failures of the party and the government, it is not going to be easy for him. There is no how the pains inflicted on Nigerians by the APC-led government can be discussed without assigning greater proportion of the blame to him. He is the soul and brain behind the party. Even his campaigns have not shown any marked departure from the trademark APC bulldog style. Short of identifiable programme to offer Nigerians, he has turned his campaign grounds to avenues for hurling invectives on real and perceived opponents. For him, it has become a matter of ‘I get it or we all lose it’.

Nigerians should not allow him have his way. The February 25 election provides an opportunity for the suffering masses, the unemployed youths, the marginalised citizens and indeed, any Nigerian pained at the gross mismanagement of the country in the last eight years, to stand together and with one accord, chorus, ‘thus far, no further’.

APC should be stopped at the ballots. The election is a referendum on the party and the government. The critical question for Nigerians is whether their conditions are better in the last eight years or worse. This is one question that I am not sure that even the most ardent supporters of the ruling party would answer in the affirmative.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is of course not an option. It is in total disarray and has always been so. In defending its failure, APC claims that it is the mess the PDP left behind after its 16 years of unfocused leadership that is still drawing the country back. You may not entirely dismiss the allegation, given the reckless manner the PDP ran the country like a rented bicycle. Be that as it may, considerations for the presidency should neither be for the APC nor the PDP. The difference between the two is akin to six and half a dozen. Both are still steeped in the politics of old, bereft of issues and agenda, to be given another chance to lead Nigerians. Doing so would be catastrophic.

It is time for Nigerians to shift for the better, try new set of leaders, not for the sake of trial but because of the need to move the country ahead, to recreate the bond of unity among the people, narrow the widening gulf of ethnic and religious divides, unleash the latent energies in the youths and harness the untapped potential in the country. This is the crux of the message by the Labour Party (LP) and its presidential candidate, Peter Obi.

▪︎ DURU is the Editor of TheNiche Newspapers, Lagos.
(08054103327, nwaukpala@yahoo.com).

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